How to clean and update your customer database

Comment nettoyer et mettre à jour la base de données clients

Spring! The sun is shining, the air is fresh and you feel energised. Time to open the windows, air the mattresses and clean everything! What about this data that you’ve been keeping in a cloud server for many years? Spring cleaning shouldn't be restricted to your home. Your customer database could also do with a little refresher.

It helps prevent the accumulation of obsolete and duplicated data. The relevance of your commercial action is determined by the quality of your data. So, how about a little spring cleaning in your database?

Your customer database is not a collection

Don't they say “the more you put in, the more valuable it becomes”? Well, what works for stamp collectors is, alas, not a quality indicator for marketing and sales professionals. Like a racing car ready to go on the track, to be effective, your database must always be operable.

Not cleaning your customer database is risky for its long-term operation. Here are a few examples of what could happen:

  • The more data you add, the heavier it gets. This impacts the cost of storage, the access times (that can grow considerably) and the queries (that get slower to process).
  • The risks of errors, duplicates and homonymy are increased and could damage the growth potential of your business.
  • You may not comply with the GDPR. Since May 2018, this European regulation requires you to request the explicit authorisation of your customers to keep their data (either via a direct question or by updating your Terms & Conditions).
  • The data used in your dashboards and KPIs can become unreliable and alter your objectives.

Best practices for cleaning and updating your customer data

Taking care of your data is important and it requires a continuous investment of time and effort. We have compiled a few tips to help you.

Detect erroneous data

The goal is to determine what data has no value and unnecessarily pollutes your database, such as:

  • Postal address changes (RTS).
  • Brand or brand name changes (following a strategic decision, merger, takeover, relocation, etc.).
  • Changes in spokesperson (retirement, resignation, new recruitment, etc.).
  • New websites and email address structures.

Find the errors, delete wrong and unnecessary (if the company ceased to exists for example) data and update it accordingly.

Find and delete duplicates

The company name is often how you refer to a client in a database. Do you work with PSA, P S A, Peugeot Citroën or Peugeot Group? Optimise and standardise your data by deleting duplicates and making sure you are using the right name for each client.

Structure your data properly

How do you deal with subsidiaries, groups and internal divisions of corporate clients? Is this name the name of the group, the brand or a branch? Have a clear policy to identify your customers and share the data in your database. This structuring and nomenclature work guarantees the stability of your customer data.

Check and optimise the data of your best customers

This kind of business intelligence work should be done on your 5, 10 or 30 best customers. Spend time recreating, reorganising and updating your data. Check your clients’ websites, their social networks (LinkedIn for example), or their public data (news, blog posts, annual reports, etc.) to find what you need.

You will improve your knowledge of your customers and be able to adapt your business strategy to each of your key accounts.

Create complex queries and filters

Remember these clients who stopped responding to your emails two years ago? Should you keep their data or not? What about the ones who never open your newsletters?

Rather than relying on your intuition, decide whether to keep data or not on statistical logic. Find the companies you haven’t worked with over the last five years, check their data and ask your sales team to get in touch with them to update the data.

Use complex filters to understand why a client stopped working with you. By combining collective intelligence and the power data, you will get outstanding results and be able to decide whether to keep or delete a client. Silos in companies between IT, marketing and sales can often prevent effective communication.

Backup regularly

To err is human. True. But, this can be devastating for your database in case of poor management. Daily backups (or hourly in case of large volumes) can protect your database from risk and help you find data about your clients quickly.

Store these backups in a digital safe or a disconnected place to prevent propagation in case of contamination by a cryptovirus, for example.

Your customer database is as important as your expertise, your intellectual property and your patents. And like everything, it needs to be well-maintained to gives its best results. Make sure to use your customer data with an appropriate tool to maximise its potential and help develop your organisation.